For Brooklyn-born Rebecca Pronsky it must have been something of a novelty playing at Belper Rugby Club.
It’s the first time she’s ever had to use a locker room as a green room, she joked before starting what would be a charming and unexpected two hours of music.
Pronsky, as part of her UK tour promoting her critically-acclaimed third album Only Daughter, was warmly received by the audience, quickly striking up a dialogue as she delved into the stories behind each song.
Whilst perhaps not the most glamorous of gig venues, the rugby club nevertheless offered excellent acoustics, plenty of space and a beautiful view of the town from the veranda.
Backed by her husband, Rick Bennet, whose bluesy surf guitar riffs provided a sublime backdrop to her singing, Pronsky’s voice was note-perfect, making the most of her strong vibrato - not unlike that of Stevie Nicks.
During the first set, they played several tracks from the new album including their American protest anthem Rise Up, catchy song Honesty which has all the pop sensibilities of Fleetwood Mac at their prime and ode to New York City Better That Way. They finished the first set with downbeat track Hard Times from previous album Viewfinder, a song that found Pronsky at her most bluesy.
During the interval, Bennet previewed his solo material. Atmospheric and retro his echoing guitar arpeggios chimed out like the riffs from a long lost David Lynch soundtrack. His excellent version of Mr Sandman maintained all the melancholic nostalgia of the 60s hit whilst providing his own uniquely dark twang to the song.
The benefit of playing a smaller venue was that it gave the duo the freedom to experiment with their set list, often throwing in new songs and switching things up on the fly. A self-confessed hater of audience participation, Pronsky nonetheless got the audience singing along to Big City Lights and this continued as they segued into the Searchers’ hit When You Walk In The Room.
Rather than country or even bluegrass, as some have labelled her, Pronsky is closer to having a rockabilly sound, wearing her indie credentials on her sleeve with pride. Part PJ Harvey, with a hint of Imelda May thrown into the mix, she’s making soulful, rootsy music that’s fresh and forward facing rather than stuck in the past – long may she continue.